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Below-average short rains ameliorate rangeland resources, but conditions remain poor

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • November 2022
Below-average short rains ameliorate rangeland resources, but conditions remain poor

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  • Mensajes Clave
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    • The 2022 October to December short rains is the fifth consecutive below-average season as the historic drought continues. At the end of November, cumulative rainfall is less than 70 percent of the 30-year average across most of the country, with large areas of the northwestern, northern, and eastern pastoral areas and the marginal agricultural areas recording less than 55 percent of the 30-year average.  Although the rainfall is ameliorating some vegetation and water conditions across pastoral areas of northern Kenya, vegetation greenness, as measured by the eVIIRS normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), is less than 60 percent of the 10-year average. However, in western Kenya, rainfall is average to above average, supporting agricultural production. 

    • Across the pastoral areas, rangeland resources remain well below normal despite the short rains providing limited stabilization in water and pasture conditions. Monitored water points remain well below median levels, resulting in trekking distances ranging from 8.6 to 17.6 kilometers, at least 38 percent above the three-year average. The poor vegetation conditions and long trekking distances are maintaining widespread poor livestock body conditions and well below average milk production. In Turkana and Samburu, milk production is negligible, while in Isiolo, Wajir, and Marsabit, milk production ranges between 0.25 to 0.5 liters per day per household, around 70 to 90 percent below normal production. However, in Mandera and Garissa, milk production increased slightly to 1 and 1.9 liters per household per day but remained around 15 and 60 percent lower than the three-year average. Overall, the impact of the drought on food and income is driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across the pastoral areas, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in Turkana and Marsabit counties. 

    • In the marginal agricultural areas, the area planted to staple food is below average following the late onset and cumulatively below average rainfall, and constrained access to income to purchase seeds and other inputs following consecutive below average production seasons. The late planting and below-average rainfall is raising concern that a large proportion of the crops planted may not reach maturity. Households are increasing their dependence on off-own farm activities such as petty trade to earn income and minimize food consumption gaps. Depleted household food stocks from the long rains also drive atypically high market dependency among poor households. Limited incomes and constrained access to food continue to drive Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes; however, in Meru (Meru North), Tharaka, Kitui, and Makueni counties, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are widespread.

    • Staple food prices remain unseasonably high across Kenya, driven by successive below-average production seasons, a high post-COVID-19 demand, high marketing costs driven by increased fuel prices, and reduced cross-border imports from Uganda and Tanzania. In November, maize prices were 29-113 percent above the five-year average, with prices in most monitored markets over 70 percent of the five-year average. Similarly, bean prices in monitored markets are 60-90 percent above the five-year average. The high food prices are limiting household purchasing power, particularly for poor market-dependent households across Kenya. Where it is available, households are purchasing cheaper and less-preferred alternatives like cowpeas, pigeon peas, green grams, sorghum, millet, and non-milled maize and rice. 

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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